invited to apply and then rejected

A reader writes:

I volunteer for a company and they asked me to apply for a post which I would not have applied for in the first place. I applied and they gave it to someone else. Why set me up for such a fall?

I can see how it would feel like that, but they weren’t trying to set you up. Being invited to apply for a position is exactly what it sounds like — being invited to apply, not being anointed. Otherwise, they’d just offer you the job.

Companies do this when they think you might be a strong candidate, so if nothing else you should at least feel flattered that they thought highly enough of you to reach out. But the process that follows — interviews, etc. — is there so that they can dig more deeply and see if indeed the match would be the right one. During that process, they may find out that the match isn’t as strong as they had hoped, or an even stronger candidate might emerge. That’s just the nature of it, and you shouldn’t take it personally or feel that they slighted you.

That said, this is why when companies invite someone to apply for a job, especially a volunteer or current employee, they need to be careful to make sure that the person clearly understands the situation and knows that they’ll be considering other applicants as well.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. majigail*

    I've had staffers at our non-profit tell volunteers about openings and invite them to apply. however, these staffers usually don't have any input into the hiring process & often don't know if the requirements for the job have changed.

  2. Totally Consumed*

    I second what’s been said by AAM, anonymous and majigail; with rising unemployment the competition is fierce. Being invited to apply is a foot in the door, not an offer of employment.

  3. The Engineer*

    Also note that the “invitation” is a useful way to ensure you get some viable applicants in addition to the person you have already decided to hire. This way HR rules are met (competitive interviewing process) and the hiring official gets what they want.

    I have seen this in government. Don’t know if those same concerns exist in the private sector. (Does it matter in the private world if only one person applies?)

  4. Rachel - I Hate HR*

    I agree with Magjigail. At my company employees get a referral bonus if the person is hired so they refer EVERYONE. Then HR has to sift through and goes back to the employee and points out that their applicant doesn’t have any experience, they just shrug it off not realizing the emotional affect it has on the applicant.

  5. Wally Bock*

    My experience is that most people, not just those in the hiring process, tend to hear what they want to hear. So do your due diligence about telling invited folks that you’re going to look at other candidates as well, but don’t be surprised if they feel that you “promised” them the job.

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